Did you know that all members of the Partnership Learning Community are welcome to create blog posts?
Feel free to author posts anytime you have something to share - either about projects you are involved in that you think will interest the PLC community, or updates about your work as a Conversation Leader or Partnership movement-builder.
It is easy to make a post - just follow the instructions below and have fun!
March, 2017: Read the new Huffington Post article by CPS Power of Partnership Alumni Pamela Hale. Pamela writes: “We are asking ourselves, “Am I supporting and perpetuating the dominator principle, which relies on power over another, or am I living out a partnership approach based on caring, empathy and respect?”
Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com
This post features an overview of Riane Eisler’s four cornerstones of building a partnership culture:
1. Partnership childhood relations
2. Partnership gender relations
3. Caring economics and
4. Shifting cultural beliefs, myths and stories
Pamela offers her framework for a personal call to action:
How can we practice awareness of our everyday role in resisting a dominator mindset and contributing to partnership?
Pamela completed the Center for Partnership Studies’ The Power of Partnership workshop in March, 2017. She is a certified Partnership Practitioner. For more information on this popular program see: centerforpartnership.org/powerofpartnership
Thank you, Pamela!
Thank you to Caring Economy leader and parent advocate Kate Duva for her 2 minute self video “We can't have peace without a CARING ECONOMY”.
“Parents and caregivers do the work that makes all other work possible. With every decision you make throughout your day, you are making a choice that influences the evolution of the human species.”
Call for videos: CPS leaders: take up the challenge!
Create a simple 2-3 minute video that describes your current leadership activities relating to Caring Economy and Partnership. You are an inspiration to the CPS community and your video supports our vital outreach efforts.
See sample video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JafA80R4WAE&t=44s Please contact me for criteria and tech. support: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanine Otte, certified Caring Economy Advocate, helps families and businesses in the Chicago area reduce their energy use and save money by improving their energy efficiency.
Jeanine: “Our research team has analyzed the benefits of energy efficiency to explore positive consequences outside of saving energy…especially those on a limited income…both the Caring Economy and the Partnership frameworks are helpful in measuring the full impact of our work here at Elevate Energy.”
Jeanine is collecting stories from her community that show the true power behind a caring economy and energy efficiency—caring for people where they live, and offering lifelong benefits beyond kWh savings.
Learn more about the Caring Economy Advocates Program: caringeconomy.org/advocates
Cherri Pruitt, Caring Economy leader in Lafayette, CO, would like to connect with fellow Caring Economy and Partnership Alumni with this request:
“Looking for models of community partnership! Here's the challenge: how to create an integrated and sustained model or system that serves as a hub for all efforts geared towards building a healthy community.
1) tracking all programs such as grant funded initiatives that have similar objectives related to early childhood development and school readiness, healthy pregnancies and parenting, fatherhood initiatives, etc. so that a) the success and value of these programs can be effectively tracked and communicated and b) like efforts can be coordinated so ultimate impact can be maximize.
2) providing a venue for education programs and resources, such as CPS trainings on partnership and caring economics; training and education on ACEs and how to become trauma informed and responsive; programs that help de-stygmatize mental and behavioral health issues, such as Mental Health First Aid; and programs that help empower individuals and foster leadership skills.
Does anyone have anything to suggest???”
Contact Cherri at email@example.com.
Cherri Pruitt profile:
Cherri Pruitt was the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Consultant for Region VIII. Prior to coming to HRSA, Cherri was a Policy Analyst with the Colorado State Primary Care Association supporting Colorado’s federally qualified health centers.
Cherri spent over 20 years working directly with families and patients in a variety of settings, including a federally qualified health center, a county-wide mental health facility, a Title X funded women’s health center, and in various hospitals as a certified childbirth educator. Cherri is also a trained facilitator for the Parent Leadership Training Institute, a civic leadership initiative of the Connecticut Commission on Children.
Cherri is a certified Caring Economy Conversation Leader and graduate of the Cultural Transformation Course. In 2014 she coordinated and facilitated the CPS Action in Healthcare working group.
I am a person deeply committed to social justice. Throughout my life, I have fought for fairness in treatment for all people and living things. I grew up in a household deeply committed to caring and community. My father was a pastor at the same congregation for 40 years and my mother worked supporting families of the incarcerated and advocating for criminal justice reform and restorative justice principles for over 30 years. Through their words and actions, I was taught at an early age that caring for others in community is important. We help each other. We protect and care for the Earth. It is simply what we do.
Being a pastor is a 24-7 job and being a pastor’s wife and working mother is an ever-present commitment. As a child and young person, it was commonplace for me to visit the elderly, the sick, to ride in the car with my mom to the federal penitentiary so a wife/mother/girlfriend could visit her loved one in prison, and to participate in and lead others in service work, music, and prayer. Memories of seeing my parents comfort and counsel friends (who felt like extended family) as they mourned a loved one, struggled to nurture/discipline a child, or wrestled with difficult, intimate relationships are too many to count.
And the inverse was also true: the care and love my parents extended was reciprocated right back at our family during all tides of life, whether that be through watching my sister and me while our parents weren’t available or sending homemade meals and loving words during times of loss or also during times of celebration, the support was there. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the humor as well as guidance I was so fortunate to receive from friends and mentors. And last but not least, I was fortunate to learn about, appreciate, and care for the land around me. From hiking at the local nature parks to turning off lights at home to planting trees I knew caring for the earth was a responsibility. My family lived modestly by material standards but we were rich with wealth. I am privileged to have been witness to, recipient of, and participant in countless acts of care and love.
So when I came across the Center for Partnership Studies, Riane Eisler, and the Caring Economy Advocates Program, the concepts were a no-brainer and the approach a breath of fresh air. Finally, there was an organization and systems approach to recognizing what we have all known for so long: we as humans thrive from the support and care given to one another and the Earth, and the real wealth we enjoy is found in family and community.
I work at a nonprofit that promotes smarter energy use for all. We design and implement energy and water programs that reduce costs, protect the environment, and ensure the benefits of energy efficiency reach those who need them most. For my Caring Economy Advocates practicum, I engaged some coworkers in a conversation around caring economics. In our industry, people are often the last, and yet so obvious, missing consideration made when designing energy savings programs. Industry programs are developed based on a complex rubric and set of evaluation standards that essentially boils down to return on investment, dollars and cents, material wealth. There is often little to no discussion of the varying degrees of benefit that reduced costs and improved air quality from energy efficiency have for the people actually living or working in a space!
Operating within this restrictive framework in our industry, we asked ourselves, what other indicators might we use to measure the benefits of our work? How can we tell more compelling and meaningful stories of the communities we serve? Do we know all those stories? Are we listening enough? Are we asking the right questions? Of the work that we do, what is valued more? What is valued less? Why? It was the start of a conversation that we will continue.
Insulating roofs and installing solar panels are important remedies. Hammers and infrared cameras are useful tools. Ridding homes of lead and toxins is a necessary and urgent solution. It is all important. It is all valued. But understanding why and how that reduced bill matters to a family so accustomed to the daily anxieties of bill payments, or the change in human condition and happiness felt from the removal of pollution and toxins from a neighborhood or home simply cannot be measured by the same technical standards or indicators.
What’s more, harnessing the existing, collective wisdom and action of our own communities to more meaningfully support and value the ways in which we already care for our children day in and day out, the ways we now grow and share food together, the ways we join together to create just and sustainable places to live, study, work and play, all of this labor gives us much more than 7-10 years return on investment. It can give hope. It can remind us of the best ways we can be. It teaches us how to care. Just as I and millions of others have been taught to care by our families and communities, our collective labor teaches the same. It gives us not a new way of living together but a refreshing reminder of the way we’ve always known. That working hand in hand, respecting all abilities, contributions, and voices, helping and supporting each other, we are empowered to be our best selves. We are inspired to create new ideas. We are whole.
This work takes time, lots of time. But as we are often reminded, the things in life that are really worthwhile take time. And they take struggle. That’s why it’s called labor. Let’s make space for that time, value that time, and value the labor we all bring.
I look forward to walking this journey with all of you.
Wow! My grandsons won't believe their Papa posted his first blog. Ironically, I returned to school, entered politics and involved myself with Riane to help ensure my grandsons a brighter future.
To get to the top of a mountain it begins with the first step. This is my first step in building an advocacy team second to none right here in my own community with the hope of spreading the word to family members in other communities. My goal is to inform and educate my fellow seniors in town to "start the conversation". Seniors, like myself want to leave this life better than how we found it. Mention the opportunity to build a brighter future for a seniors grandchild or great-grandchild and you will have their undivided attention for as long as you wish.
We are in a perfect position to start the conversation, we all want the ability to say: Been There Done That! Let's help the seniors be all they could be and release us on the community with a message of hope and good tidings.
Hello Caring Economy Alum and Cohort!
What a phenomenal program to have stumbled upon. One day, scrolling along on Facebook, I discovered a post advertising the Certified Advocate for a Caring Economy course from the Center for Partnership Studies. They had me at "advocate." I looked further into the program and immediately discovered lightning bolts shooting out of my heart making a b-line for my brain. "Donna Mills!!!!" screamed my heart, "this is THEE path that will propel you forward into your next career. This is the culmination of everything that you have been working toward. Get in there!!" So I did!
I have spent many, many conversations with friends, family, and community members throughout the six weeks that I have spent studying this program. I find so many opportunities to slip this work into conversations while chatting at the coffee shop, in line at our local food cooperative, on Sunday mornings at the Unitarian Universalist Church, etc. Just about any place I find myself is fair game to introduce Caring Economy concepts.
My actual practicum took place one Monday morning with the minister and director of religious education at our local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I began with introducing myself and what attracted me to this work, I gave a brief historical reference and introduction to the program, and then we viewed a five minute video of Riane Eisler. When the video ended I introduced the following six facts sheets in the order listed.
* Care crisis mean big trouble for the economy and women
* Make the economic and business case for caring
* Rethink values
* Change how economic health is measured
* Change business and social policy
My intention was to build a story beginning with the problem, moving to possibilities, and ending with solutions and proven outcomes.
At the end of our time together the minister of the church asked me what I planned to do with this knowledge. "I want to save the world Elizabeth." I replied. "Well why don't you start by using this material to create an adult education program here at the church?" she says.
So that is exactly where I plan to begin, or rather continue this work, creating programs and taking them to the masses. My next steps and goals are
to create a cohesive outline for a Caring Economy program
to teach this material a minimum of four times in the next six months
seek funding opportunities that will help me create a full-day event that I plan to present in the next 8-12 months, sooner if possible.
My long term goals are to build a resume of programs, move to England, and continue sharing the Caring Economy concepts with the communities of England to combat the devastating effects of their austerity measures.
Thinking about the economic systems and structures which form and perpetuate the violence, inequality, and destructive force of the current economic paradigm, I came up with an easy way to remember all the things that need to change… a mnemonic for transformation. OMMMM stands for Ownership, Money, Markets, Management, and Metrics. These systems are embedded in the laws, customs, regulations, and practices that warp and twist the economy to the benefit of the wealthy and systematically impoverish everyone else, while destroying the life support systems of the planet at the same time.
How can we see their impacts on the caring economy? What do they mean for people trying to be advocates for change? Let’s look through the lens of these systems to understand both the roots of the current paradigm and the ways in which they are already being transformed by the cooperative partnership model.
Ownership: There is a reason this is first on the list. Ownership thinking sits at the root of all economic malaise. Until relatively recently in western history, women were owned by their fathers and husbands. They did not have the rights to own their own property, or vote, or behave in other ways that would befit an equal partner. When many of us were born, for example, women in the U.S. couldn’t even apply for a credit card without someone else’s signature. In many parts of the world, this female slave status is still in force. Slavery in this country was outlawed over a hundred years ago, but it still persists here and, sadly, all over the world. People still feel like they own other people, so ownership of assets, land, companies, money, securities, and other economic forms of power seem trivial in comparison. If you are looking for the roots of the domination worldview, ownership is a big part of it.
Yet they are not trivial at all. Over the last 150 years in the United States, we have seen the evolution of capital ownership transition from the robber barons of the Gilded Age to the shareholders of the modern corporations. Where once single men owned vast amounts of capital and made individual decisions for their own benefit that shaped the way millions of other people worked and survived, now the same decisions are distributed over a larger group of people, with managerial capitalism replacing the Great White Hunter model of the last century. Yet shareholder primacy still governs the way an enormous percentage of our economy operates – the bottom line of profit for the owners is still way more important than the impact of the activity on other human beings and the natural world.
New forms of ownership are emerging that offer a counterweight to these old forms, yet as a percentage of economic activity, they are relatively small. Co-ops, worker owned companies, non-profits, and Benefit, or B Corporations all offer some real change in ownership that serve to benefit the people involved in actually producing the products, the consumers, and the natural environment. Land can be owned by community land trusts to limit the speculation that drives real estate values into the unaffordable range. Condominiums and coops have also exploded as a new land ownership model.
As advocates, asking how your own money is invested in these assets, establishing new entities with more equitable ownership structures, and joining coops and other organizations working to change how we think about ownership, and how the economic systems we participate in are structured.
Money: This is second on the list, and is competing for first place. Yet the ownership of money by the private banking system makes money problematic, so I can agree that second place is it’s proper rank. The money we use is a privately owned, positive interest, debt-based monoculture monopoly. When all of these features are combined, we have a system that drives the growth imperative, human impoverishment, and ecosystem destruction. Its artificial scarcity means that the most valuable things in the system are also scarce, and the things that we have and need in abundance – caring for others, creating arts and culture, participating in our democracy, stewarding the natural world, are all nearly worthless.
Money has hijacked our value system, our systems of measurement and our culture. We all are misled into thinking that the money we use is a governmental function – we are told that it is printed by the government, and the presidents, governmental images and other trappings on the notes further reinforce that quaint but completely incorrect notion. The vast majority of the money we use has come into existence through the issuance of debt by the banking system. Each note actually tells us who owns it – Federal Reserve Note has top billing. The Federal Reserve Bank is a privately owned bank. The government appoints the director, but the rest of the leadership comes from the banks, who are also guaranteed a profit for their ownership role. The main role the government plays in our monetary system is the granting of monopoly status – the term “legal tender” means that it is the only kind of money we are allowed to use to pay debts and taxes. This monopoly also means that it works like a monoculture – when something goes wrong in the private banking system, our entire economy comes crashing down. Yet this does not need to be the case.
The role money plays in the domination paradigm is also clear once you understand how it works. When money is issued as debt, the requisite deposits are made in a bank, and the value of that money is linked to the debtor’s ability to pay it back. Yet when that money is issued, the interest to pay it off is not. So we have all this money circulating with a built in positive interest expectation attached to it, and the money to pay the interest is not created at the same time. This sets up a very competitive situation. For me to pay off my business loan, or car payment, or mortgage, someone else has to lose. Go bankrupt. Forfeit the assets they may have paid for years trying to actually own. There is simply more debt in the system than can ever be repaid, and the interest? Impossible. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to grow grow grow. This is why we hear about economic growth as the only way forward, yet the level of growth required is impossible on a finite planet. The rest is history – we are crashing and burning.
There are many alternative forms of money emerging that mitigate the negative effects of the system. Public banks return the interest paid to the public sector, which provides a badly needed source of revenue beyond taxes and cutting programs, but also mitigates the growth imperative role of money by not continuing to consolidate the wealth in the hands of the current owners of the system. Complementary currencies like Time Banks, commercial barter systems, food currencies, and other mutual credit systems are starting up all over the world.
Yet at its heart, we need to remember that money is fundamentally a social system. We can reclaim it and structure the way the entire system works to foster a caring economy that simultaneously preserves environmental integrity by moving away from fractional reserve banking to full reserve, government controlled banking. This is the current program of a group called Positive Money in the UK, it was the thrust of the Chicago Plan that was drafted and almost implemented after the great depression. The NEED Act in Congress, filed by Dennis Kucinich back in 2010 or so, called for this.
Markets: Back when Adam Smith was writing about the “invisible hand” of the market, the idea of a free market was a revolutionary idea. It still is. Yet as Amory Lovins once said, the market makes a good servant, a lousy master, and a horrible religion. There is nothing “free” about our current markets, where we are so overwhelmed by large corporations, small producers face almost insurmountable barriers to success. If they do manage to succeed, their large corporate competitors either buy them up or run them into the ground with artificially lower priced goods flooding their market, international dumping, or legal rules manipulated to the benefit of the big companies. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and its companions – NAFTA, WTO, and GATT – are just the newest ways the large, wealthy class asserts their dominance and control over everyone else.
The combination of a privately owned, positive interest, debt-based monoculture monopoly monetary system and a manipulated market that is only sensitive to price and demand forms a really ugly partnership as scarcity is valued and abundance is not. Over time, people have worked together on things like price controls, subsidies, and other mechanisms to overcome these inequities, and yet the neoliberal paradigm that has so dominated our public economic thinking has made us imagine that any intervention in the “free” market is tantamount to blasphemy.
Markets are systems that are formed by human ingenuity – there is no need for them to work the way they do. We have seen instances of countries holding firm to protect their smaller producers, local markets forming that offer small producers access to customers that larger companies do not have, and the natural market that forms in complementary currency systems when different means of exchange are used to trade. Alternatives are possible, yet fundamentally counteracting the stranglehold the neoliberals have on economic thought is a prerequisite.
Management: This “M” is meant to reflect all the rules, systems, assumptions, and practices that form the ways in which businesses and non-profits are managed. When we hear about socially responsible businesses who have taken the health of their workers, the community, and the environment into account in the ways they produce their products, pay people, and mitigate any harmful impacts they have, all of this would fall into this category.
So for a caring economy, highlighting the businesses that pay a living wage, offer paid sick leave for workers, on site day care, and other requirements that foster a more humane and caring life, would be one possible strategy. Encouraging those who don’t offer these options to do so, and perhaps even calling attention to their poor practices would be another way to go.
Unfortunately the ability of most small businesses to engage in new practices is severely limited by the ownership, money, and markets factors described previously, so if this is all you do as an advocate, it will likely have limited effectiveness.
Metrics: By metrics, I mean the ways in which we measure economic wealth and progress, whether it is the severely flawed GDP/GNP methods practiced in the west for the last century, or more local systems like the Genuine Progress Indicator developed by the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics - now law in Vermont and Maryland. Gross National Happiness (GNH) is another system that has been explored, first developed in Bhutan by a rather dictatorial king trained in the west.
GDP and GNP were both developed in ways that explicitly excluded women’s caring work, the inputs from the environment, and all of what we think of as the voluntary sector. When systems of value and progress render these things worthless, it reinforces the other inequities created and perpetuated by the other economic systems we have in place.
There are many people who have latched on to measurement as a real way forward – witness the work of the “indicators” movement over the last 15 years or so. This work relies on decision-makers who are motivated by data and facts, however, an assumption that is increasingly questionable in an era of climate deniers and fact-resistant legislators. My emphasis continues to be on the drivers of the problem rather than the measurement of progress. To imagine that measurement can be transformed into a driver works in limited circumstances, but on the whole has proved to be an illusion in the current system.
Getting out of the Box: In summary, all of these structures form what might be seen as a box that mediates the ways in which we all meet our needs. If we want to change the economy, we need to get outta the box and change the systems and structures that cause the current problems.
Sabrina Chakori is a new economy leader and graduate of the Spring 2016 Caring Economy Advocates Program. She is attending COP22 this week in Marrakech, Morroco.
By Sabrina Chakori - – Sydney, Australia
Building the new economy: activism, enterprise and social change. This was the title of the conference that took place in Sydney on the 16th and 17th of August, 2016.
While many groups and organizations try to fight and fix some aspects of the ecological and social crisis that we are facing, also in Australia, as in the US, other movements are growing with the aim to redefine a new framework for the next economic system.
The different panels and presentations illustrated many aspects of the new economy: some focused on the importance of cooperatives, other showed how community exchange can reduce consumption and other speakers explained the new paths that we could undertake in order to build a more social and ecological inclusive economy. From permaculture projects to community owned renewable energies, every aspect demonstrated the importance of the community engagement in any of the changes that we need to make.
When thinking to a new economy, often happen that the values claimed are not really new. They are part of an “old” local and sustainable economy, pre-liberalism, that used to care about the (real) well being of people and of the environment. Thanks to the participation of some aboriginal people, such as Dr. Anne Poelina, Managing Director Majala Inc, and Ross Williams, Bindal/Juru people, the debate focused on the importance of caring and respecting the land.
“Redefining people in sustainable economies: the consumer has to go” was the title of the workshop that I organized with Dr. Peter Daniels of the Griffith University. We analysed the central notion of “consumers” that plays such an important role in directing contemporary, high-income societies. The idea of a “consumer” as the central actor in the economy comes from an inappropriate mind set or ideology founded on an assumption that wellbeing is mainly derived from transforming “raw materials” from nature and consuming or using up these resources and their products. Both “production” and “consumption” imply destructive actions and losses from natural capital that will easily be replaced, regenerated or technological fixed.
The interactive session aimed to: 1) Identify what motives, goals and desired outcomes actually lie behind people’s collective quest for wellbeing (versus just a desire for “consumption”); 2) Discuss how to mobilize social movements bringing back awareness on our role in a new economic system with particular attention to the “consumer”-citizen nexus; 3) Identify dimensions that can help to propose and promote a new term to replace “consumers” as the central actors in the economy – with a notion of people that is more compatible with sustainable societies.
“How can we reimagine work, exchange, money, care, law and our relationship with the natural world through the prism of a new economy?” This questions was the central focus of this conference and a catalyst for future new economy events in Australia.
Sabrina is attending COP22 (the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) this week in Marrakech, Morocco. She is a part of negotiations representing young European ‘greens’ and will be writing about the caring economy approach in the context of current climate negotiations. Stay tuned…
Read about the Caring Economy Advocates Program
The Center for Partnership Studies’ Caring Economy Campaign was inspired by The Real Wealth of Nations by Riane Eisler.
The book seeks to change economic policies and practices so that they:
• Invest in people who do the work of care
• Invest in early childhood
• Rely on new measures of economic health
The Real Wealth of Nations is available at the Center for Partnership Studies bookstore.
The updated chapter summaries, “The Real Wealth of Nations: Caring Economy Tools for Change Makers” offers a detailed look at the Caring Economics model.
The climate is right for investing in a caring economy. Hoa Nguyen’s recent Women’s e-news article “Is the U.S. Ready to Start Caring About the Crisis in Caretaking?” highlights the work of the Center for Partnership Studies and stresses the value of Social Wealth Economic Indicators, an initiative of the Caring Economy Campaign.
Nguyen shares the story of Kristy Umfleet, a pre-K teacher in North Carolina struggling to make ends meet while staying committed to her chosen profession of early childhood education. The article states: “A national budget built on the principles of a caring economy would prioritize such things as early care for children, fair pay and increased benefits for workers, high quality and affordable education, sustainable natural resources and a green environment, along with job creation in the business and private sectors.”
At the Caring Economy Campaign, we are dedicated to supporting an emergent economic system that enables the work of care to be visible and valued. CEC programs empower leaders to advocate for community change, support for parents and caregivers, caring policies and education promoting the principles of a caring economy.
Read more about two exciting webinars this fall:
Election 2016: The Care Deficit
with Riane Eisler and Valerie Young
Friday, September 16, 2016
Information and Registration
Power to the Parents: Reclaiming our Voices, Our Worth, and Our World
with Kate O’Rourke
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Information and Registration
Care is a big part of our economy and shapes all our lives. In the new Huffington Post article,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riane-eisler/whats-the-forecast-for-ca_b_11305106.html Riane Eisler and Valerie Young review party platforms’ responses to policies that support careincluding gender pay gap, maternity leave and support for elder care workers. Our nation invests less than any other developed country on supporting the care work primarily performed by women. Viewed through the powerful lens of the Caring Economy Campaign’s Social Wealth Economic Indicators, the link between public investment in a care infrastructure and human well-being becomes visible.
Policies that support care and value those who provide it further a stronger society and shared prosperity. Writing recently in The New York Times, columnist Nick Kristof stated “…the evidence is also overwhelming that when women gain power and a seat at the table, we men benefit as well.”
Can we work together to make caring count in this election?
Join Riane and Valerie online on September 16 for the 90-minute webinar Election 2016: The Care Deficit http://caringeconomy.org/election2016/
On Saturday, June 4th, 26 people from many different walks of life, aged 3 to 73, came together and took a risk. None of us – myself included, and I was the facilitator! – knew exactly what we were getting into. All we knew was that we must stand up together and insist that we are worth more.
We Are Worth More has a simple, but ambitious aim: to provide space for caregivers – parents, elder caregivers, therapists, teachers, social service providers, nannies, mentors, or anyone who looks out for the needs of others – to get together and network. We shared a delicious hot meal – caregivers need to be cared for, too! – and we celebrated our incredible value, because boosting our sense of self-worth helps us to grow as advocates, and to confront a system that largely ignores our worth.
Sharing intergenerational wisdom - we all have things to teach each other!
A society that does not care for caregivers is a society in danger – and danger is rampant here in Illinois, which is now going on year two with no state budget, and ranks 50th in the nation for fiscal health. Mary, a home health nurse who has decided to move to Florida, told us about the children she cares for, some of whom are forced to live without medicine that their families can't afford. Anna and Angie reported exhausting battles with school administrations who claim that their children with disabilities no longer qualify for special services. Amineh, a child care professional who works with children while their parents take English classes, explained that adult education is disintegrating in Illinois, and by the end of the month, so will her job. Sonya, a developmental therapist, talked about countless social service agencies that will close, or already have closed their doors. And Aidan and Blake lamented that when they bring up racism, police violence, and our crisis in education, many of their high school classmates simply don’t want to hear it. But once a conversation about justice is sparked, it’s very hard to stop it. It certainly was hard to stop talking at our event! We understand that our survival depends on our ability to gather collectively, and to speak to these challenges.
From the We Are Worth More photo booth!
At the start of the afternoon, I challenged everyone to keep an open mind. “Consider that everyone here has something to teach you. You may know things they don’t. They may lead a life that looks very different from yours. But I challenge you to see every person you encounter today as a mirror. What do they have to show you about yourself?” Then we loosened up and learned each other’s names with an invisible ball game called “Pass the Power.” And since mingling is a surefire way to energize a room, I asked people to reach out across the circle and start a conversation with someone they had never met before. I asked, “Who do you care for, or what do you really care about?” The room was abuzz with passionate responses. The next set of questions took us deeper: “Who cares for you? Are your needs being met – and if not, what do you need?”
Historically, economic thinkers from Adam Smith to Karl Marx have fixated on “productive work,” and dismissed caregiving as “reproductive work.” But advocates for a caring economy, like Ai-Jen Poo and Riane Eisler, argue that household work, family care and education are the very foundations of our society – the work that makes all other work possible. $1 invested in early childhood care and education may reap up to $17 in returns – so why do we struggle, generation after generation, to secure quality programs for parents and children? And why do we accept the fact that there are twice as many elderly women living in poverty as elderly men, knowing as we do that women are more likely to spend years caring for relatives, working with no paycheck and no social security?
Brainstorming! We spend so much time thinking about how to survive... it's important to take time to dream about how we can thrive.
After we mingled, I shared a slideshow with some jaw-dropping statistics. It’s easy to buy the dominant narrative that our government is broke, when we ourselves are struggling. But, to borrow from a popular Chicago Teachers Union hashtag, we could, in fact, be #brokeonpurpose! Here in Illinois, while countless families are barely scraping by, our richest resident, and Governor Rauner’s biggest donor, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, enjoyed a $16 million tax break, thanks to the new flat tax. And on an international level, the USA looks pitiful indeed – we’re the only developed country in the world with no mandated paid family leave. We spend less than half on childcare and early education than any other developed nation. There is no nation in this world that comes anywhere close to our military spending – but in 2015, a whopping 54% of our federal budget went towards the military, plus an additional 6% for veterans’ benefits. Only 6% went towards health, and 6% towards education.
To borrow the vocabulary of one popular presidential candidate, could our economy be rigged against caring? In her book The Real Wealth of Nations, Riane Eisler wrote that “the devaluation of caregiving is our inheritance from times in which women’s bodies and women’s work were male property... [and] women, and anything associated with women, were basically invisible in economic thinking.” But people of all genders can, and do, care. Would more men enter caring professions, or stay home with their families, if this work paid more? Research shows that involved fathers live longer, have fewer health problems, and are more productive at work. And family-friendly policies like paid leave create more loyal employees, cut costs to employers, and stimulate the economy. As Riane Eisler would say, we have to stop arguing about capitalism versus socialism, left wing versus right wing, or patriarchy versus matriarchy. The true measure of a society's health is whether that society accepts systems of domination, or strives for systems of partnership. Many folks who came on Saturday told me that places that should feel welcoming, like a nursing home or their local school, follow policies that make them feel dominated. They talked about places where they feel respected and heard – homes, community centers, places of worship, and our workshop – as places of partnership.
The owner of a local restaurant, Semiramis, delivered our lunch of chicken kabobs, rice, homemade hummus, pita, and fattoush. As the delicious smells wafted through the room, I asked participants to take one more risk: I asked them to brag! “We know we’re good people – but when we struggle to get by, it’s easy to lose confidence. When society, and the economy, ignores our worth, sometimes we can forget our own incredible value, whether we realize that consciously or not. Caring's not glamorized, is it? So now is your chance to tell someone something amazing about you. Pair up and brag; then write down your amazing quality on one of our posters; and help yourself to lunch!”
After some time to settle in with lunch and enjoy spontaneous conversation, we looked at another slide show with good news: various grassroots organizations working for families and communities, from Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) to Domestic Workers Alliance to Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) to Community Organizing for Family Issues (COFI) – our allies in the movement towards a partnership society.
Then we shared a dessert from the heart: we passed a box of Hershey’s kisses around a circle, decorated with the message You are Amazing - We are More Powerful than we Know. Each of us thanked the next person for coming, for taking care of others, and for taking care of themselves. We gazed around the room, catching each other’s eyes, smiling, remembering that everyone has something to teach us. Though we have our personal concerns, and our local issues, we must remember that standing up for others is standing up for ourselves. As COFI parent advocate Rosazlia Grillier said, “Sometimes folks are working on the same thing but in separate silos, and that makes it less effective. But I think people are starting to wrap their head around the concept that we can accomplish more together than we can separately.”
A slide from the presentation
Everyone went home with a list of organizations – large and small, national and local – of people already on the ground working for justice. I also sent folks home with an invitation to spark up their own conversations with their friends and families. The invitation included a few provocative questions to get people talking, and links to organizations that offer toolkits and support to budding conversation facilitators – the international Caring Economy Advocates Program, and On the Table, a local movement to foster civic engagement in Chicago.
And we got a wonderful surprise – Blake, a 16-year-old young man, offered to sing us a song. “You are… so beautiful… to me…” Two overworked, under-appreciated mothers turned to each other, their faces streaming with tears, and they magnetized to one other in an enormous hug.
We have another event coming up on June 28th, and we hope to have many more after that. In the true spirit of popular education – education by the people, for the people – our participant feedback was not a survey on paper, but a closing dialogue – What did you learn? What did you teach? What was missing from today's event? The takeaways:
Words of wisdom - from a series of personal interviews I did to prepare for the event
Providing free, nourishing food is a symbolic act of caring for caregivers. Many people also felt nourished by the social connections they made. A few generous donors contributed towards lunch, and the rest, I put on my credit card, because I have faith in this work. I’m willing to take a risk to try and fund it until it catches on. In a world where we’re struggling to survive, we need funding to continue to bring isolated families and groups together to take an honest look at our differences and our similarities, and to amplify our voices. I’d love to get paid for this hard, but exhilarating work – and even better, I’d love to pay other caregivers to start conversations of their own, to build bridges across our city and state, and to step up, speak out, and show the world what solidarity looks like. Most of us caregivers have never been in the army, and never carried a union card - but oh, what a world it will be when we truly unite, and mobilize our ranks to insist once and for all that we deserve security!
Join us for the next round of
WE ARE WORTH MORE
NOSOTROS VALEMOS MÁS
(There will be similar themes next time, but no two events will be exactly the same! Previous attendees welcome to return!)
Dinner: Tuesday, June 28th, 5 - 7:30 pm, Albany Park Library, 3401 W. Foster Ave, Chicago IL 60625.
Social media lovers: check out and share the bilingual Facebook invite.
For more about my work as a writer / teacher / mama / developmental therapist / infant massage instructor / organizer for families,
please check out my website, Power to the Parents.
For more about what sparked this work, check out my article
Want to partner? Care to collaborate? Would you like to bring WE ARE WORTH MORE, or something like it, to a place near you?
Got feedback, or ideas? I'd love to talk to you!
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Whole Systems Project of Democracy Collaborative together with the Center for Partnership Studies, the Laura Flanders Show, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance invite you to the free online panel event:
Toward a Caring Economy: Beyond Capitalism and Socialism
June 7, 10am Pacific
This event promises to be a vital and lively discussion among leading thinkers of our time. Panelists include Riane Eisler, Gar Alperovitz, Ai-jen Poo, and Neva Goodwin.
Our political-economic system is not working: families are struggling, the middle class is diminishing, one in five U.S. children lives in poverty, we have unacceptably high rates of homelessness and incarceration, rising underemployment, collapsing environmental systems, and a host of other problems. What would it look like if the system in all of its dimensions – cultural, economic, political, environmental – focused on ensuring we have a healthy society and planet? What would it take so caring for people and nature is a top priority? Does the current shift to an age when automation replaces more and more jobs offer an opportunity to build such an economic system? How can we get there, and how can we measure our progress along the way?
In this webinar, a panel of leading thinkers and practitioners who have been working on these questions will discuss them at greater length. Participants include President of the Center for Partnership Studies and Director of the Caring Economy Campaign, Riane Eisler; Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign, Ai-jen Poo; Co-Chair of the Next System Project, Gar Alperovitz; and Co-Director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University and Core Support proponent, Neva Goodwin. Our partner Laura Flanders of GRITtv will moderate the discussion. More information on the panelists can be found here.
We hope that you will be able to join us!
Hot off the press: read the new Huffington Post blog by Riane Eisler and Valerie Young. Please add your comment there (scroll all the way down in that post).
Share this story via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Caring-Economy-Leadership-Program-280879118619444/
Here are four key levers to rev up the economy:
1. If women close the gender gap, by 2025 GDP would increase 19% over current estimates, or $4.3 trillion according to new data from the McKinsey Global Institute.
2. If US policies provide accessible high quality childcare, more women can enter the labor force, revving up the economy even more.
3. This leads to a third essential lever for revving up the economy: greater investment in early childhood education.
4. A fourth lever for revving up the economy is adopting paid family leave policies with job protection. The US is the only developed nation that lacks these!
I'm a retired RN and new to understanding "Economics". I learned about the Caring Economy Program from The Peace Ambassador Program with James O'Dea and Philip Hellmich. During this course I was introduce to many new resources for creating a more peaceful, and economically healthy environment for all people. A world concerned about the natural environment we live in, and the people, agencies, groups, and organizations who are involved in making these changes. This program opened my eyes to all the grassroots organizations all over the world who are doing amazing work to reach these higher standards for all people, animals, plants, water, soil, air, etc. Rien Eisler was one of the speakers during this program. I was very impressed with her talk and put her name down on the list with others to do more research. It took me about about 2 years after the program to finally take the Caring Economy Course.
I had been to a rally at the Winnacunnet High School in NH for Bernie Saunders, on December 15. I was very impressed with the quality of the people supporting him both young and old. He talked a lot about the inequalities in the economy, and the policies that were needed to help make these changes. He spoke with the pronoun "We" are going to make the changes, empowering the audience to realize that we are as responsible as he is to help in this process of government; in Lincoln's words - "government of the people, by the people, and for the people". I remembered that Rien Eisler, spoke on this topic and had done research to back up her ideas, so I thought this would be a good time to take her course.
I'm still in the process of reading the Real Wealth of nations and the Chalice and the Blade. I've listened to Rien's Ted Talks and other talks from her website. The course on the Caring Economy is so vital right now especially with Bernie Sanders calling more attention to some of these issues and asking the people to get involved in voting for the policies and the policy makers that will make these changes.
Our Homework for the Caring Economy class was to give a Presentation. The class was divided into 2 parts, in the first 3 weeks we were given information then a 2 week break, in those two weeks we were to creat and give a Presentation. Those 2 weeks just happen to fall on my vacation to Encinitas CA, for a 4 day Meditation Retreat and visit with friends.The second week of vacation was used to prepare and present to my very supportive friends my Caring Economy Presentation.
My enthusiasm ( and a healthy dinner of a home cooked meal) was warmly received. There were 4 teenagers present(17, !6, girls, 15, 11, boys). I was surprised how attentive they were during the 45 minute program. This was the first time they heard about GDP, and they liked the idea that Rien felt that children were part of her "social wealth" and were included in here new concept of GDP (Gross domestic product) the SWEIs (Social Wealth Economic Indicators). The 17 year old girl had been to a rally for Bernie so she could related to the information on the discrepancies in the distribution of wealth in our country. Their parents included 2 teachers, 3 in business, and 1 scientist, 1 retired grandmother and 1 retired friend. They all went away with a new view of what the economy could look like. They all felt a little more positive about the fact there are people actually actively working at creating this Caring Economy and want me to send them more information.
So that is my next project is in creating a website ( with the help of my scientist friend) on getting information that would be important for them to be aware of on a World, National, State, and Local level, so they could act on the problems either by - petition, donation, volunteer, join a protest march, write letters etc.. There is so much information out on the web if I could streamlined the information to the persons likes and interests, they may be more likely to act on these issues.
I am getting more questions and requests for presentations from my hiking friends and meditation group so I guess Bernie is getting the word out that "We" can make the change and Rien is telling us, here are some ideas on how we can do it.
Thank you Ann and Sarah for all your help and to my amazing classmates who are already playing a big part in making some of these changes.
Peace and Harmony, :) Sharon
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